How to Upgrade Your RAM
One area where computers can always use an upgrade is in RAM. The more memory your computer has, the more time the CPU can spend actually working rather than waiting for data to load from the hard drive.
What Types of Memory Are There?
Kingston makes two different kinds of system memory, DDR3 and DDR4. While both work in basically similar fashion, they are physically incompatible and cannot go in the same system. Each one comes in a different package and requires its own unique connector.
- DDR3: 240-pin package with a nominal operating voltage of 1.5 Volts; module size 133 millimeters long by 30.35 millimeters high and 1.0 millimeters thick.
- DDR4: 288-pin package with a nominal operating voltage of 1.2 Volts; module size 133 millimeters long by 31.25 millimeters high and 1.2 millimeters thick.
How Do You Choose RAM?
When it's time to upgrade your system memory, the first question will always be whether the new memory module actually fits in the existing memory slot. For DDR3 that means either a 240-pin DIMM or 204-Pin SO-DIMM depending on whether you have a desktop or laptop. Both types of memory module use the same protocols and require the same voltage, but they are not interchangeable. Once you get that out of the way, there are a few other things to consider:
- Voltage: Standard DDR3 runs at 1.5 Volts, while DDR3L only needs 1.35 Volts. Note that while DDR3L is compatible with 1.5 Volt chipsets, the reverse is not always true, and some chipsets do not support the higher voltage DDR3 modules.
- Speed: Most Kingston PC3 memory runs at anywhere from 800 MHz for PC3-6400 to 1600 MHz for PC3-12800. The faster the module, the more data it can transfer. Some performance DDR3 modules run at 1866 MHz for a PC3-14900 rating.
- Capacity: In most cases a 4 GB DDR3 module is the smallest you should consider using. Two modules make 8 GB which is plenty for most users, and you can often find a matching pair in an 8 GB kit. Only gamers and power users need regularly go beyond that capacity.
How Much Memory Do You Really Need?
According to Microsoft, the 64-bit edition of Windows 10 needs a minimum of 2 GB of RAM to operate. While you can get by with 2 GB, the computer will feel sluggish, especially if you are multitasking. The real minimum is 4 GB; that gives you enough RAM to use the computer for daily tasks without being concerned about running out of memory. Moving up to 8 GB takes you to what many consider to be the sweet spot for Windows 10. You can add more, but you often find diminishing returns kicking in.
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